Belfast Telegraph

Friday 6 March 2015

Rally to protect free speech from SF and DUP

The draft Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill presently out to consultation until July 14 is a draconian piece of legislation agreed by Sinn Fein and the DUP.

They are proposing to abolish the Parades Commission, a DUP and Orange Order demand, by replacing it with a new quango.

The questionable clause in the draft legislation is: “Anyone organising any assembly, parade or protest involving 50 people or more in a public place will be required to give at least 37 days notice or be guilty of an offence.”

The ramifications of this legislation are that any group wishing to publicly protest or have a public rally are in breach of this law if they decide to publicly protest.

People who want to campaign against any type of injustice, such as to save their local hospital, schools or jobs; people who do not want to see cutbacks to education, health or pensions, and people celebrating a local sporting victory are now being held to ransom by Sinn Fein and the DUP.

People should make it clear to Sinn Fein and the DUP before July 14 that they have the democratic right to public protest. If people do not, Sinn Fein and the DUP will force this ridiculous Bill through the Assembly.

Patrick Clarke

Dundrum, Co. Down

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